Tennis’ Isabel Heras won the first NMSA award for 2016 as she was named the Female Student Athlete of the Month for January.
The Saipan International School student earned the January top honors, sponsored by Tan Siu Lin Foundation, after her notable showing in two tournaments in Australia last month.
Heras played in the consolation bracket of the girls U16 singles event in the 2016 Commercial Club Margaret Court Cup held at the Albury Grasscourts in Albury, New South Wales and topped the field after prevailing against two opponents. She dominated Jovana Jovic in the semifinals, 6-2, 6-4, and then also took only two sets to beat Alison Triggs in the finals, 6-3, 6-1.
In the doubles main draw of the same tournament in Albury, Heras partnered with Samoa’s Anasis Saipele and they finished runner-up to Fiji’s Vienna Kumar and Ruby Coffin.
From Albury, Heras traveled to Wodonga in Victoria for the 2016 Victorian Grasscourt Championships and had another finals appearance in the doubles event. She also teamed up with Saipele and incidentally placed second to the Fiji pair. Before losing in the finals in three sets, 6-4, 3-6, 5-10, Heras and Saipele managed to pull off an upset against the No. 1 seed tandem of Mercy Jane Eze and Olivia Huang in the semifinals, 6-2, 6-2.
In the singles consolation bracket, the 15-year-old Heras made it to the semifinals. She eliminated Laicy Rogerson in the quarterfinals, 6-4, 6-1, before falling short in the super tiebreaker against the top-ranked Emmy Lappel in the Final Four, 4-6, 7-5, 8-10.
Heras competed in the two tournaments in Land Down Under as part of the elite Pacific Oceania Touring Team. He earned a slot on the squad after her impressive showing in the Pacific Oceania Junior Championships in Fiji.